The Media fraternity came out in droves during a peaceful protest entitled ENOUGH! STOP RAPE”, at the Karachi Press Club on September 14th, 2020 to demand security and protection for women and children following a surge in rape cases in Pakistan including that of five-year-old Marwah who was raped and burnt -to -death in Essa Nagri, Karachi, and a woman who was gang-raped in front of her three children on a motorway in Lahore.
Marwah’s father was present at the protest to seek justice for his daughter among a roster of Pakistani celebrities – including Frieha Altaf of Catwalk Cares who was responsible for encouraging many of her peers to attend – comprising of Mahirah Khan, Adnan Siddiqui, Sarwat Gillani, Ayesha Omar, Ali Rehman, Yasir Hussain, Sarah Khan, Natasha Baig, Anoushey Abbasi, Saqib Malik, Asim Jofa, Deepak Perwani, Maheen Khan, Bushra Ansari, Mansha Pasha, Asad Siddiqui, Gul-e-Rana, Nubain Ali, Wardah Saleem, Sunita Marshall, Hassan Ahmed, Sheema Kirmani, Asim Raza and Hajra Yamin among others.
Mahira went on to add, “We constantly associate shame with abuse, anything to do with “sex”. We are talking about sexual abuse, not the other way around. The topic itself is so vast.” The actor called for the producers to revisit our narratives on what we show on films and TV. “When I say that we need to change narratives, I mean we need to see who are our heroes? Are they always going to be hitting their wives, abusing them? Will they always cheat on them? Who are these men?”.
While others on social media demanded capital punishment and public hangings for the perpetrators with the hashtags #NoMercyForRapists, #WomenAreNotSafe, #ChildrenAreNotSafe.
Former supermodel Frieha Altaf told, “It saddens me, it angers me to have to raise my voice against such barbaric incidents.” Frieha commented she’s not the one in favor of such brutality. “We saw in Zainab’s case. Hanging the culprit does not bring the needed change that is not the solution. After Zainab’s case, we saw a rise in 16% of the rape cases. We have to find answers elsewhere.”
Other talking points include swift, effective, and transparent investigation of gender-based crimes with fair and speedy trials with relevant legislation put into place; and banning the requirement of two-finger tests. On a practical level, the 10-point agenda also demands the establishment of gender-based reporting cells and more stolid support for survivors and victims of violence as well as improving security systems by adding street cameras, creating available helplines and putting into place witnesses protection programs.
On a societal level, a divisive point that was addressed on the agenda was public hanging and capital punishment. These were said to serve and placate citizens “but not prevent or deter rape”. Instead, the agenda denounced misogyny and patriarchal mindsets and demanded the removal of misogynistic-minded men in power and suggested a pro-active change in school and college curriculums to encourage a mindset of equality among all genders. The imposition of the Sex Offender Registry to be maintained & Chemical Castration for Rapists. To ensure the Zainab Alert bill in all provinces of Pakistan with the contact numbers-1022 to be displayed in Hospitals, Educational Institutions, and Police stations.
Yasir Hussain known for his comic roles stated, “Why do we have to impose on women how to talk, how to walk, what to wear?, Men should learn how to respect women and empower them”.
On top of the rally’s agenda is an end to violence against “women, children, and transgender and non-binary persons by patriarchal forces including state-backed mechanisms”; and to ensure that the Government upholds the rights of women and marginalized genders and enforces justice when those rights are violated.
Adan Siddiqui, a well-known actor also stated: “Aurat Mazloom Nahi Muzboot hai” and demanded speedy trials”
The Churail Series, Sarwat Gilani explained, “Children Education begins at home. We need to educate our children on what good and bad touch mean. We need to raise better boys.” Furthermore, the agenda demanded radical and procedural reforms of all public Institutions to uphold these rights which include “accountability from any public official who fails to recognize the aforementioned rights or perpetuates victim-blaming myths” especially in light of Lahore Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Umer Sheikh initially suggesting that the motorway gang-rape survivor shared responsibility for her tape who has since apologized for his earlier remarks. Sheema Kermani shared that, “Public hangings increase violence because it brutalizes society, making people more and more insensitive,”
Ayesha Omar held a placard with a message that stated: “It’s never the Clothes, It’s never the Time, It’s never the Place, It’s Always And only the Rapist,’’